Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find answers to our most commonly-asked questions. If you can’t find the answer to your question on this page, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a “3PL”?
A third-party logistics (3PL) provider is a company that provides outsourced logistics services to client companies for part, or all of their supply chain management functions. Every 3PL is different. For us, this involves managing inbound freight, customs, warehousing, order fulfilment, distribution and managing outbound freight to our clients’ customers, all while keeping our clients thoroughly up-to-date on the status of their goods.
Which industries benefit from 3PL services?
Any industry can benefit from outsourcing their 3PL requirements. We regularly work with companies in manufacturing, construction, auto, chemical, agriculture, health, pharmaceutical, education, electronics, apparel, consumer products, food and beverage industries. We also partner with a wide range of general retailers and expertly manage their supply chains in respect to both their physical stores and their e-commerce customers.
What size business do you typically provide 3PL services for?
We provide logistics services for a large range of businesses. We have clients with start-up or small business requirements of say 1-2 hours a day through to large organisations who require up to 25 staff working daily on a full-time basis in their peak season.
Can my business save money by using Online Distribution as its 3PL provider?
Yes! As experts in warehousing and distribution, efficiency is at the heart of every warehouse and process within. By absorbing all fixed costs but charging only for what our clients use, as well as “brokering” a significant freight and courier spend, we routinely lower a client’s overall distribution costs whilst providing a reliable service.
What is order fulfilment?
Order fulfilment involves the picking, packing and shipment of inventory. Basically, we store your product in our warehouse until your customer orders come in, then we take your items out of stock (picking), appropriately package them (packing) and send them on their way to the desired business or customer (shipping).
When are orders delivered by?
We can provide different levels of service to suit your needs. We will work with you to align your freight requirements to suit your customers’ requirements. This ensures the right level of service is provided at the right price, delivering your product at the right time to the right place. We can provide, on request, a detailed dispatch schedule outlining the different delivery times available. In addition to this, our presence in both Christchurch and Auckland provides you with the opportunity to place your stock close to your market ensuring that you have minimal lead times between your business and your customer. We offer point-to-point courier runs through to full container shipments nationally and abroad.
What type of deliveries can you do?
We work with numerous sea, air and road freight partners. We can provide ground transportation via courier or truck and can co-ordinate sea or air freight delivery and pick-up services. We can handle most types of products, parcels, parts, components and shipments.
Where can you distribute products to?
We have several warehouses and distribution facilities located in Christchurch and Auckland. This means we can quickly and easily distribute our clients’ products to their customers anywhere in New Zealand and also internationally.
Can you store and manage dangerous goods and hazardous materials?
We have a facility in Christchurch that is specifically approved for the storage of dangerous goods and hazardous materials, including chemicals. Our employees who are responsible for handling dangerous goods at this facility are fully-trained and qualified in that area.
How safe is my product?
We pride ourselves on our ability to look after your product and treat each item as though it was our own. We ensure that all products are distributed using the appropriate packaging and stickers (i.e. breakable, fragile) as required. We can work with any specific requirements needed to meet the expectations of your customers. In the unlikely event of any damage or loss of your products, we follow a comprehensive claims procedure which is outlined in our standard terms and conditions.
What insurance cover do we have for products stored in our warehouses?
All goods held by us remain at their owner’s risk. It is your responsibility to ensure you have sufficient insurance cover for your products at all times. We do hold significant Bailees Insurance should we become legally liable for any loss, damage or destruction of goods caused by our negligence. We are very happy for your insurer to inspect your products at any of our locations as required to ensure you have appropriate cover at all times.
What are your back-up and contingency plans for unforeseen circumstances or business disruption?
Contingency planning is an integral part of our culture and our focus on customer service and safety. We conduct a self-risk management assessment on a quarterly basis and review our plans regularly to ensure they are still relevant and ‘best practice’ in the current environment. This includes disaster recovery planning, health and safety procedures, building security systems and electronic information security. We pride ourselves on our flexible approach and ability to respond to disruption not only when a disaster occurs, but daily as a response to unforeseen events that arise outside of our control. We operate from multiple warehouses and distribution facilities across New Zealand which decreases our risk during an unforeseen event and lessens your business’ exposure. Our risk management team is responsible for implementing our contingency plans when required, ensuring the safety of our employees and preserving our assets, whilst restoring ‘business as usual’ processes as quickly as possible in the circumstances. Our aim is always to minimise disruption and our staff have always shown their willingness to go above and beyond to achieve continuity for our clients and their customers. Our computer systems are backed up regularly and our computerised freight systems can operate manually if required.
Do you accept ‘one off’ type contracts?
Our on-call labour rates are provided to you with our service quote. Any unscheduled or additional work that you instruct us to carry out would be itemised on a ‘miscellaneous labour’ form and attached to your monthly invoice. We do not carry out any work without specific pre-authorisation from you. Any ongoing, regular low-skill work may attract a reduced labour rate or be incorporated into our contract with you as a piece rate.
What are the arrangements for pallets?
We use Chep pallets for transfers onto our transport suppliers and traditionally for receiving inventory from clients. We use our own pallets for internal storage. These pallets are available for product storage where full pallet lots and layers are not sent out. They are available at a reduced rental rate from Chep.
How do you determine which warehousing facility is most suitable for me?
We like to get to know you and learn about your business and product(s) so that together we can make the right decision regarding the storage and distribution of that product. We need to understand who your customers are, the frequency and quantity of their orders, where they are located and your preferred distribution methods. We also need to understand any special requirements from a storage and handling perspective. Once we have this information we can determine which of our warehouses will best fit your needs. The factors we take into consideration are the location and type of facility that is best suited to your product, the size and quantity of your product, the pick frequency and any particular labour force requirements. We have a suite of physical (and virtual) offices situated within or alongside them which you can rent if you prefer to be located in close proximity to the warehouse.
What are your warehouse storage conditions like for my stock?
All stock stored with us will be kept in a secure, clean and moisture-free warehouse. Many of our warehouses have been specifically-designed and built for us so we can achieve optimum conditions such as maximising natural light and minimising windblown dust.
What security systems do you have in place?
All our office and warehousing facilities have 24 hour security monitoring and our own covert surveillance equipment.
What is your confidentiality policy?
We value honesty and confidentiality when it comes to our clients and pride ourselves on our excellent honesty record. Our staff are familiar with client confidentiality issues and the signing of a confidentiality agreement would present no difficulties. We also have a ‘Confidential Information’ section in our Individual Employment Agreements which all staff must sign. We understand the importance of confidentiality when it comes to your competitors and we would always endeavour to inform you of any potential risks or conflicts that present themselves through the use of any of our shared resources (staff or warehouse sites).
What staffing do you offer?
Like most companies, our people are our greatest asset and come from a variety of backgrounds with specialist knowledge and skills. Each warehousing facility has a site manager who is your first point of contact in relation to your product and customer activities. The site managers look after a team of dedicated staff who are either full-time, part-time or casual employees. We invest heavily in development and training so our employees feel engaged, motivated and solution-focused.
What are your invoice terms and conditions?
Please contact us to request a copy of our standard Agreement for Services. Our invoice structure is simple to understand, transparent and detailed. Payment for our services is due within 20 days of the date of our invoice.
What are your arrangements for freight?
We outsource our combined client freight requirements to a selection of specialist courier and long-haul carriers. Due to the large amount of freight transport we use, we benefit from excellent purchasing rates and priority service. We are able to pass on our significantly-reduced ‘bulk buying’ prices to you and can provide you with a freight rate schedule on request.
Can you cope with our unexpected business growth?
We have opened 1-2 new warehouses every year for the last 29 years. We love to grow with our clients, and accommodating your growth by continuing to offer flexible solutions to meet your logistics needs is how we operate. We understand that your business needs will fluctuate at various times due to seasonal requirements, general growth, additional routes to market or a downturn in the economy. We have complete flexibility to help you achieve your strategies no matter which way your volumes move.
How do you manage our stock?
Our powerful and industry leading Warehouse Management System (3PL Central) has been tailored to our specific needs, which is critical for best practice inventory management and real-time visibility. We have partnered with 3PL Central to ensure that our clients’ specific and changing needs can be accommodated with minimal cost and delay.
Integrations are possible via EDI, with most popular e-commerce shopping carts and other business systems, all in real-time. Our in-house experts will work with you to ascertain the best set-up for data flow between your company and ours. This will be determined by your internal business requirements, existing IT infrastructure and other relevant system information.